The Zone System is dead. Well, that was what one guy posted at his blog.
Zone system is not dead. At least not for the anal landscapers and still life shooters. I don’t think Ansel and Fred would have approved of all the darkroom masturbation Johnny Patience does with his film. But, Ansel was an anal tripod shooter for the most part, whereas Johnny is mainly a street shooter. So lets be clear…one tool does not always work for all jobs.
Now, with my street and doc work the zone system was seldom of much use to me. I didn’t have time to do much thinking as I was chasing this guy down a dark alley for a photo in 1971.
The anal photogs are used to working with pretty perfect files and trying their anal best to get it perfect in-cam. Whereas street / documentary photographers are used to working with imperfect files and making something great out of it.
Infrared flash photo – New York 2016 by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
With fast shooting or even slow shooting, we are not always able to get the exposure or composition right in the camera. Cropping and post processing can make or break a photo. In my case, almost all my photos are cropped and the vast majority of them can be improved with post processing.
The Sunlit Slipper
This shows what 2.5 hours of Lightroom can do for a pix. I shot it in the early 1970’s when I was 19 in Hollywood, CA. The only light was the window. I had a tripod and beat up SWC and that was it. The Sunlit Slipper never amounted to much from my wet print days. Digital revealed what was hiding in the neg all those years.
Selection from De Wallen: Amsterdam’s Redlight District artist’s book
Here is an example of push processing an image. The gal was pushed 2 to 2.5 stops. The guys head was pushed 4 to 4.5 stops. Normally a photo pushed this much would be trash for me. But, shooting in Amsterdam’s Red Light District is forbidden, so I have to allow for a wider net of acceptable quality under the circumstances.
My landmark book De Wallen: Amsterdam’s Redlight District was shot in 5 days. That was all limited budget allowed for.
Infrared flash photo series from Piercing Darkness artists’ book by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
One of the problems with IR flash at night is most of the time you are dependent on flash for 100% of the light. The little ambient light that is available gets lost with IR. You can see the fall-off in the shot above; the foreground was pulled 1.5 stops the background was pushed 3 to 4 stops.
When I shot Captain of Wall Street 90014 all I had for light was the window and one bare bulb on the ceiling. While this photo did not need cropping, it did require lots of post processing to make it doable.
Shooting into the sun made it a hard one to develop – this is the 21st version.
That is how it usually goes for candid street work. You can’t pick and choose your lighting. (Unless your one of the modern day ‘street posers’ that try to pass off staged work as candid street photography.) With fast street shooting – you turn left it is one exposure, turn right it is another. We have to split the difference many times.
BTW…‘Order Women like Pizza’ is the world record for how close you can get shooting a candid with a digital rangefinder….less than a foot!. (I got candids going down to 2 or 3 inches from the subject, but, I liked this one best.)
Homage to Weegee 2012
Again, shooting into the sun has to be balanced the best you can do in post.
When you do street or doc work, if you come back with 70% to 80% of what you were after, you can still have a winner. We just try and do the best we can…in the blink of an eye it can be gone. No time to even say ‘zone system’ many a time.
. That roving pack of street photogs are usually composed of camera fondlers. Anyone serious about street work wont go for it, Barbralee Diamstein Spielvogel asked Joel Meyerowitz how he got interested in street photography, Betty Page by Weegee, Dead Woman Found in Apartment, Do you find photography a solitary activity?, hen you die alone this is what it is like, I tried to join a local shutterbug club but they didn't like my work., I tried to join a local shutterbug club but was discouraged to join., Meyerowitz recounts how he met Robert Frank as part of his art directing job and went out with Frank for a street shooting session., That is how a serious street photog works...not a camera fondler.
From Model Mayhem Forum…
T. Noble writes:
Do you find photography a solitary activity?
I mean other then a model or subject, who else do you socialize with? Other photographers that share your interest and passion? None of my old friends are really interested in photography other then maybe having a poster on there wall of an Ansel Adams pic. It has been my experience that finding others who share this passion to socialize with has been very difficult if not entirely nonexistent.
I have joined photo clubs, but find the people in those sort of groups to be the sort of people that want to share their work and hear a bunch of praise, but don’t really share that much else. Snobbish, neo-yuppy, or old retired types that just like to take pics of flowers or tree bark.
There have been a couple of pro’s in the group, but again, they treat photography like it’s something not to be shared or explained, unless you’re willing to pay them for their expertise, despite being in a club that promotes education and learning.
How about you?
What has your experience been with other photographers? Do you have other photographers that you are really able to be friends with?
Well T. Noble, some photogs like shooting in groups, others don’t. I’ve always been a loner, so working alone is nothing new to me.
Betty Page by Weegee
I work alone in my ‘Lightroom’ as well as when I shoot on the street. I have no photog friends. Family members hate my work and have nothing to do with it. The only time I really have any interactions with people is the rare occasion I shoot posed photos.
It used to be I had a good deal of interaction with my subjects in my early days of photography. Back then my mantra was ‘meet on the street…shoot at the home.’ But I don’t do much of that of work any longer. I’m old and times have changed. People are self-sufficient with their digital cams and $29 Wal-Mart inkjet printers, so they don’t need an old guy shooting pix of them when I approach them on the street.
Sometimes when I see a photog on the street I may say hello, but it is rare that I do. Usually the photog has their lens shade on backwards and the lens cap still on. The last time I spoke with a photog was 2012 when I was in Venice, CA and saw a guy with a Leica. Oh, and a few months ago I spoke with a gal that had a twin lens reflex tattooed on her arm – but she did not seem conducive to chit-chat. (Maybe if I was a young guy?)
I used to be on a number of photo forums, but got banned from them all…
Here is a partial list of sites that have banned me, blocked my posts or asked me to stop posting.
Luminous Landscape Forum
A.D. Coleman Blog
Digital Photography Review
Fuji Forum (original)
Fuji Forum (new)
Eric Kim Blog
Photography on the Net Forum
Photo Camel Forum
Large Format Forum
B & H Blog
Real Photographer Forum
Amateur Photographer Forum
Open College of the Arts Blog
I tried to join a local shutterbug club but was discouraged to join. They had about 20 members and didn’t like my photography. They were landscapers and flower photogs.
A few years ago when I was starting out with museum placements I wrote to a number of well known photogs asking for advice. Only got a reply from one.
I’m an old film photog, so my digital knowledge is limited. But if someone asks me…I tell em what I can. They don’t have to pay me. Photography has been my lifetime avocation and anytime I can help another photog out I will. If you read my blog you know I don’t hold back a thing. I breastfeed it all to you…
But, there is one area that I won’t oblige. That area is being accompanied by the ‘roving pack of street photogs.’
I had read about photogs that like to gather at meetups and scour the streets for photo ops. That roving pack of street photogs are usually composed of camera fondlers. Anyone serious about street work wont go for it.
In a 1981 Visions and Images interview, Barbralee Diamstein Spielvogel asked Joel Meyerowitz how he got into street photography. Meyerowitz recounts how he met Robert Frank as part of his art directing job and went out with Frank for a street shooting session. After that initial meeting, Meyerowitz decided then and there he would become a photographer. Mererowitz also talks about shooting sessions walking around with Garry Winogrand.
The interview also details when Meyerowitz, Tony Ray Jones and a 3rd unnamed photog approached Cartier-Bresson for a ‘tag a long’ they were turned down. Bresson told them to meet after the shoot for coffee. That is how a serious street photog works…not a camera fondler.
So, all in all, yes T. Noble, I find photography a solitary activity.
Artists seem to have a higher than normal suicide rate T. Noble. If you require socializing for happiness, then work towards that goal. Check out meetup to get your fix of packs of roving street photogs for you to chew the fat with!
“Never give up! Don’t listen to the haters. Don’t try to be an artist unless you can work and live in isolation, without any thanks….bleak, but needed until you get to the much lauded place.” ~ Scape Martinez
A forthcoming 6 volume artist’s book series by social documentary photographer Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
A complete list of artist’s books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
A camera fondler on one of the photo forums wrote that he could not practice street photography until he could do some traveling on vacation.
Guys and gals – No need to wait…shoot where you’re at and I mean anyplace.
Now, some of these were shot while traveling. But 24 of the photos are from my hometown or nearby.
Video Porn Booth
NYE Party – Infrared Flash Photo (Candid)
Gay Bar / Transwoman – Infrared Flash Photo (Candid)
On a plane
Haunted House (adult themed) – Infrared Flash Photo
A meeting of lesbian separatists – Infrared Flash Photo
Park – Infrared Flash Photo
Las Vegas (Candid)
Under a Freeway
Hollywood Blvd (Candid)
Griffith Park (Candid)
Country Road (Candid)
Wedding Reception (Candid)
Local Street Fair (Candid)
Road… a mile from where I live.
Red Room Amsterdam (Candid)
Free Jazz Concert
Mailing a letter
Ralph Eugene Meatyard produced tons of great work right in his own backyard.
Don’t make excuses ~ make photographs!